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Confronting COVID-19

Easy-to-build ventilators

A team of Canadian physicists, led by Queen’s Nobel Laureate Art McDonald, is part of an international effort to design a ventilator to help in the treatment of COVID-19.

Arthur McDonald
Nobel Laureate Art McDonald and other Queen’s physics researchers are working as part of an international team developing a ventilator that can be certified and manufactured with off-the-shelf parts. (University Communications)

A team of Canadian physicists, including Nobel Laureate Art McDonald and other Queen’s physics researchers, are part of an international team working to develop a robust, easy-to-manufacture ventilator that can be certified and manufactured with off-the-shelf parts from established supply chains.

Nobel Prize
Queen’s Professor Emeritus, Dr. Art McDonald was co-recipient of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics for his discovery that neutrinos, essential building blocks of the Universe, have mass. He is partnering with the nation’s leading particle and nuclear physics laboratories, SNOLAB, TRIUMF and Canadian National Laboratories, to lead the Canadian arm of the Mechanical Ventilator Milano project.

The ventilator design leverages the collaborators’ collective expertise in the design of gas-handling and electronic control systems used in the search for dark matter, the mysterious substance which makes up more than 80 per cent of the universe. The original design and prototypes were led by Dr. Cristiano Galbiati, a Princeton professor and collaborator on Italy’s DarkSide (Global Argon Dark Matter Collaboration) experiment in response to that country’s desperate need for ventilators.

Now a multi-national project, the Mechanical Ventilator Milano collaboration aims to design, develop, build and certify a simple mechanical ventilator system that provides a controlled supply of oxygen and air to COVID-19-stricken patients.  Importantly, the mechanical, control, and display systems are constructed from readily available parts, aiding rapid manufacture that can be adopted in different countries.

“The goal is to develop a ventilator model to meet current needs that can be constructed quickly and reliably in Canada and in other countries,” says Dr. Art McDonald, Professor Emeritus (Physics, Engineering Physics, and Astronomy) at Queen’s University and 2015 Nobel Laureate. “This project is an example of how we can harness the capacity and talent of the Canadian nuclear and particle physics community at SNOLAB, TRIUMF, and the Canadian Nuclear Laboratories to help combat COVID-19 with our international partners.”

With Dr. McDonald, the Canadian partners, Canadian Nuclear Laboratories, SNOLAB and TRIUMF, have joined an international group of researchers from Italy, the EU and US, working: to develop a common international standard for the machine, modify the design in collaboration with medical clinicians, test the viability of the device in medical environments, secure certifications through national health agencies, and partner with governments and manufacturers to support mass production.

Today, in his daily media briefing, the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, highlighted the project as one of the key examples of how Canadian researchers are working together to provide effective and creative solutions to supply shortages in the COVID-19 pandemic.  The project was also recently highlighted in a Globe and Mail article, Nobel Laureate leads push for simple made-in-Canada ventilator.

The project continues to evolve. The Gazette will continue to follow this project and keep the Queen’s community updated on progress and further developments. Please visit the Mechanical Ventilator Milano website for more information.

Ventilator design
The Mechanical Ventilator Milano collaboration aims to design, develop, build and certify a simple mechanical ventilator system that provides a controlled supply of oxygen and air to COVID-19 patients.

 

Queen’s experts rise to the challenge

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How the university's researchers are sharing their expertise to help us understand and cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Empty interview room with microphones
Queen's researchers are sharing their expertise during the COVID-19 pandemic, offering commentary and analysis. (Unsplash / Austin Distel)

As the world grapples with the uncertainties surrounding a global pandemic, we seek to understand more about the virus, its spread, and social and economic impacts. We also search for strategies for how we, as individuals and communities, can cope and be resilient in these challenging times.

However, as the coronavirus pandemic intensifies, so does exposure to a virulent combination of misinformation, disinformation, and amateur analysis. In this time of crisis, fact-based and research-informed commentary is necessary, highlighting the critical contribution that researchers and academics can make to informing the conversation

Since the coronavirus pandemic became an increasingly global concern in January, Queen’s researchers across disciplines have been active in offering commentary and analysis on COVID-19-related issues –  from understanding symptoms and spread of the virus to the impact the pandemic is having on Canadian oil prices and the global economy.

“At Queen’s, we have a wealth of leading research expertise that can be applied to how we understand the coronavirus and evaluate impacts of the crisis economically, socially, and politically,” says Michael Fraser, Vice-Principal (University Relations). “Key to our research promotion strategy and integral to our media relations approach during this time is to help our researchers share their expertise through the national and international media.”

Mobilizing research: Confronting COVID-19

As part of the Confronting COVID-19 series in the Gazette, as well as in an effort to build prominence for our researchers as media experts, the university’s Integrated Communications team is working daily across our research community to develop COVID-19-related stories.

The team also shares with media a growing list of Queen’s experts who are ready to comment on COVID-19 related issues.  Many of these experts have been featured at the local, national and international level, reaching millions through traditional and social platforms.

Highlights in the last few weeks include: Sharry Aiken (Law) commenting in the National Post on how Immigration slowdown could add to the economy's woes as coronavirus pressures mount, Duncan Hunter (Public Health Sciences) reflecting in the Globe and Mail on how Canadian governments have employed an earlier and more coordinated response to COVID-19 compared to the U.S., and Anne Ellis (Medicine) speaking to CTV News about why having asthma under control helps people  handle COVID-19.

Leading The Conversation

The Conversation logoQueen’s researchers are also taking advantage of the university’s relationship with The Conversation, to provide expert commentary on the crisis. This news platform, which has 10 international editions, including Canada, sources content from the academic research community and delivers it directly to the public and media through Creative Commons Licensing. The Conversation is currently seeing unprecedented engagement with their sites and content.

As a founding member of The Conversation Canada, the Queen’s research community has embraced the platform as a unique tool for sharing their research expertise and engaging with the media, producing more than 225 articles with 3.5 million reads over the last two years.

Recently, Roberta Lamb (Education and Music) and Robbie MacKay (Dan School of Drama and Music) provided an analysis of how music played and shared during isolation demonstrates how the arts connect us and builds community.  In his 7 tips we can learn from hockey, Stephen Archer (Medicine) outlined how lessons learned from Canada’s favourite game can offer wisdom during the pandemic.

PhD candidate Korey Pasch (Political Studies) looked at how coronavirus is fueling mistrust, fear, and racism, similar to experiences with other diseases, such as Ebola and SARS viruses. The Canada Research Chair in Economy and Environment, Kyla Tienhaara (School of Environmental Studies) provided commentary on the need for governments to consider a full green stimulus to combating the ecological crisis that is pending.

Call-to-action for researchers

“Canadians and global citizens are looking for answers and advice that is fact-based and that they can trust,” says Kimberly Woodhouse, Interim Vice-Principal (Research). “This is where the Queen’s research community can take a leadership role. Across disciplines, we have research expertise that can be mobilized and applied.”

The University Relations team is looking for research experts who can help us to understand the virus, its spread and its variable impacts. If you are interested in becoming a media expert or in writing for The Conversation Canada, please contact Melinda Knox, Associate Director, Research Profile and Initiatives at knoxm@queensu.ca or Anne Craig, Media Relations Officer, at anne.craig@queensu.ca.

Coronavirus FAQs: Should I wear a mask? How long will schools be closed?

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The Conversation: Questions remain about COVID-19 infection, transmission, treatment and recovery. 

Schools in Ontario have been closed to help flatten the curve of the spread of the novel coronavirus. (Unsplash / Ruben Rodriguez)

The global number of confirmed COVID-19 cases surpassed one million in early April, nearly doubling in a week. Instead of lifting or relaxing guidelines on physical distancing, we’re seeing playgrounds cordoned off and school closures extended in an attempt to flatten the curve and lessen the load on the health-care system.

As people hunker down at home, questions remain about COVID-19 infection, transmission, treatment and recovery. Here are answers to some of the common questions people are asking about the coronavirus pandemic.

Should I wear a mask?

Currently, the accepted science is that wearing masks is best preserved for front-line health-care workers. In other parts of the world, it is more common for the general public to wear masks, but evidence for their utility remains inconclusive.

In general, a mask protects the wearer, such as a health-care worker, from becoming infected. When someone wears a mask in public, it is usually to protect others from getting sick should they cough or sneeze. During the COVID-19 pandemic, people who are sick should be self-isolating at home and not venturing into public.

It’s in our best interest to continue the provincial and federal efforts to preserve personal protective equipment, including masks, for the people who most need them: health-care workers and their patients.

Many people are crafting their own masks made from cotton at home. It may well become a new cultural norm for North Americans to wear masks. There is nothing harmful about this practice, as long as it does not become an excuse for a person who is sick to go out in public.

The safest and healthiest way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 remains staying home when you are sick, maintaining physical distances of at least two metres from others, not meeting in groups and cleaning your hands often.

It’s in our best interest to continue the provincial and federal efforts to preserve personal protective equipment for healthcare workers and their patients. (Unsplash / Engin Akyurt) 

How long can you have the virus before you show symptoms?

Most estimates for this “incubation period” range from one to 14 days, with five days being common.

People who are infected with the coronavirus are thought to be the most infectious when they are showing the most symptoms. But infection and transmission can sometimes occur when a person has the virus but doesn’t have any symptoms (they are asymptomatic).

These people can unknowingly spread the coronavirus to other people because they don’t realize they are infected. This is why it is important to stay home and keep up with social distancing — limiting the number of people you come into close contact with. It works, and it can help protect vulnerable people in our communities.

Is there a test to tell me if I’ve already had COVID-19?

When someone is infected with a virus, their immune system begins producing antibodies to that virus. A test that looks for coronavirus-specific antibodies could determine if someone has already had COVID-19, and it could help scientists understand how widespread the disease is.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized the first antibody test for COVID-19 on April 1. We don’t have this test in Canada yet.

Many academic laboratories and medical companies around the world are working to produce these blood tests. They would be able to quickly identify antibodies in people who have already been infected with the virus, but experienced no symptoms or only very mild ones.

Can someone who has recovered from the virus still be a host?

This remains unclear. There are a small number of people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19, stopped showing symptoms, had two consecutive negative test results two days apart and been discharged from the hospital, but have subsequently tested positive for the infection again.

This suggests that some patients who have recovered may still be contagious, but this must still be confirmed.

Generally, the “viral load” — a measure of how much virus the body is carrying — gradually decreases over time after symptoms have resolved. But in some cases, the virus’s genetic material (RNA) can be detected in people for three weeks or more since their symptoms first appeared.

The levels of viral RNA detected in these studies were low and likely represented remnants of viral RNA, not live virus. But we still don’t have enough evidence yet to confirm this.

Can you get COVID-19 more than once?

Even mild cases should leave recovered patients with some immunity against the virus. But some patients have reported being infected a second time and showing symptoms again.

In one study of 55 patients in China, reactivation occurred in nine per cent of them. The clinical characteristics of these patients were no different from first-time COVID-19 patients. The study didn’t identify any reliable markers that would allow doctors to predict the reactivation risk of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.

Can COVID-19 survivors’ blood help others recover?

When people recover from an illness, their blood plasma remains rich with the antibodies that helped fight off that disease. This “convalescent plasma” has been used as a treatment, called passive antigenic therapy, for other people who become ill with the same disease.

This approach was used as an emergency measure during the SARS outbreak in 2003 and for people with Ebola in 1995, but it is not used as a standard treatment.

At this time, the use of convalescent plasma to treat critically ill adults with COVID-19 is not recommended, largely because there aren’t enough data yet to show that it is safe and that it works. These recommendations could change with more data and studies.

Many business have closed temporarily during the COVID-19 pandemic (Unsplash / Erik McLean)

How long might school and business closures last?

“Flatten the curve” has become a global rallying cry. Epidemiologists are working extremely hard to model various scenarios for our governments to predict the course of the disease. This could tell us if — and when — we can relax the restrictions and other strategies implemented in March.

In Canada, the number of cases we see in the first weeks of April, and the severity of these cases, will give us an indication of the impact travel restrictions and social distancing measures have made. With concrete numbers in hand, epidemiologists can adjust and refine models to better understand how long our schools and businesses will remain closed.

A recent report predicts the demand for ICU beds for patients with COVID-19 may peak in early to mid-April in Ontario. This means we should keep up with physical distancing — and strict isolation for all those confirmed or suspected of having COVID-19 — for at least another few weeks. This is why Ontario extended its emergency declaration and schools remain closed until May 4.

We know these emergency health measures have social and economic impacts on our communities. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the World Health Organization, offered some encouraging remarks as he closed the March 30 media briefing:

“With solidarity, humility and assuming the best of each other, we can — and will — overcome this together.”

_________________________________________________

Suzanne Biro from Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington Public Health co-authored this story.

Have questions about COVID-19? Let us find an expert to answer them. Send us your questions and story ideas.

Editor’s note: This article was based on information available at the time of publication. The COVID-19 situation is changing rapidly, and as new information becomes available, public health officials may change their recommendations. Please see our ongoing coverage of COVID-19 for the most up-to-date information.The Conversation

Kieran Moore is a professor at Queen's University in the Departments of Emergency Medicinw and Family Medicine.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Human Resources COVID-19 information website

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Information, resources, strategies, and guidelines for Queen’s employees. 

As we adapt to accommodate efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19, Queen’s remains committed to nurturing employee wellbeing. Queen’s Human Resources, working closely with public health authorities, has compiled information, resources, and strategies to help employees remain connected, health, and supported.  

For information on self-isolation, sick leave, travel, campus access, health and wellness, work guidelines, IT support, and more, visit the Human Resources COVID-19 information website

 

Quiet Queen’s - photo essay

With students, faculty, and staff now learning, researching, and working remotely in response to COVID-19, the iconic Queen’s campus looks like never before.

Come early April, campus typically settles into a quiet study routine. Students attend their last classes and then pack the libraries to prepare for exams. A hushed, focused murmur fills the air, interrupted only by the flipping of pages or the squeak of highlighters, and maybe the last, sputtering sips of a second round of coffee.

Given this year’s exceptional circumstances brought upon us by COVID-19, the campus is a new kind of quiet. Beside essential staff and a group of international students waiting to travel, much of the Queen’s community has returned home to complete the term safely online.

The Queen’s Gazette visited campus to capture the remarkable silence of this unprecedented moment.

The intersection of University Avenue and Union Street. Stauffer Library visible on the corner.

The intersection of Union Street and University Avenue at the heart of the campus is often abuzz, but it is now missing its usual scramble of pedestrians headed to classes. Stauffer Library stands tall on the northwest corner (centre), clad in a banner celebrating its 25th anniversary. It starts its next 25 years behind temporarily-closed doors, and instead remains open online for students and researchers.

View down an deserted University Ave.

A look south down campus’ University Avenue with Richardson Hall on the right and Ontario Hall on the left; Grant Hall’s clock tower in the distance. One of the main thoroughfares, it is now vacant except for a lone dog-walker.

Grant Hall

Every year, Grant Hall hosts dozens of convocation ceremonies, but celebrations for Spring 2020 graduates have been postponed indefinitely. Students have worked hard to attain their academic success, so the university is looking at ways to deliver a special experience for graduates so as to celebrate their achievements.

In the foreground, a Research@Queen’s banner hangs from a streetlamp. Faculty researchers and experts continue to work hard to share knowledge as part of our community’s broad efforts to confront COVID-19.

Closed sign at one of Queen's athletic fields.

Like much of the campus, outdoor recreation amenities have been closed until further notice. The health and safety of the Queen’s community is the university’s top priority, so access to gathering places has been limited to promote physical distancing. For up-to-date coronavirus information from Queen’s University visit our COVID-19 website.

Campus security staff patrols a residence lounge.

Campus security is on-site to keep our remaining staff and students safe. Here, a member of Queen's Campus Security and Emergency Services makes the rounds in a second-floor residence lounge. Only a small group of students are still living in residences; primarily international students awaiting their opportunities to return home, with the support of the university’s international programming staff.

Physical Plant Services (PPS) vehicles.

Many members of Physical Plant Services (PPS) are also present on campus to ensure facilities stay maintained for students and for essential staff, and in preparation for the eventual return of the campus community. PPS’ Custodial Support Services even has a special response cleaning team ready to confront COVID-19.

Chairs stacked for storage at a Queen's cafeteria.

Chairs are stacked and stored in the cafeteria at Leonard Hall. Hospitality services have closed most locations, with Ban Righ dining hall left open to serve remaining staff and students. Left with large amounts of perishable food after the closure of most dining facilities, Queen’s Hospitality Services increased regular food donations to local shelters and organizations in Kingston; organizations that have also been impacted greatly by COVID-19.

Poster for CFRC Pandemic Radio show.

A poster promoting CFRC 101.9’s Radio Pandemic displayed near the entrance of David C. Smith House. The new call-in show on Queen’s campus radio station focuses on crucial news and events related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Posters promoting physical distancing are posted across campus.

Physical distancing signage has been posted widely, urging everyone to maintain two metres between themselves and others, to avoid group gatherings, and to instead try communicating in different ways, such as by video conference, telephone, or online chat.

Squirrel sits atop a colourful bin.

Faculty, staff, and students have been flexible, resourceful, and resilient as campus life has transitioned online, and our sustained efforts at physical distancing will help health care workers curtail the spread of coronavirus. Queen’s looks forward to welcoming everyone back to campus when the time is right, but for now we must be together from afar. Until then, the ever-popular campus squirrels can scurry about in peace.

For all coronavirus COVID-19 information from Queen’s, visit our website.

Queen’s donates personal protection equipment

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Donations from faculty, labs, students and alumni delivered to Kingston Health Sciences Centre.

Donations of PPE to KHSC
Faculty members and research labs across Queen's University recently donated 900 N95 masks, 600 surgical masks, and 300 gowns as well as approximately 500 face shields.

Queen’s University has donated thousands of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) items to help protect frontline healthcare workers during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Last week a request for PPE supplies was sent out to faculty members and research labs across the university, and received 60 offers of supplies.

The response included more than 900 N95 masks, 600 surgical masks, and 300 gowns as well as approximately 500 face shields, which were not included in the initial callout.

The collected items were delivered to Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC) on Friday.

“The response from the Queen’s community has been fantastic,” says Steven Smith, Vice-Dean (Research) in the Faculty of Health Sciences, Vice President, Health Sciences Research, KHSC and President and CEO, KGH Research Institute. “Our local hospitals indicated what PPE they needed most urgently and labs across the university quickly responded to this request. We are fortunate to play a small role in limiting the spread of COVID-19 and protecting our frontline healthcare workers.”

There are several other groups at Queen’s also working hard to help protect healthcare workers, including PPE Kingston, a team of Queen’s medical students who recognized an acute need for PPE in local community clinics and hospitals.

Team members started canvassing local businesses such as construction companies and salons as well as veterinary and dental clinics. Also using social media to reach out to the community

“Slowly but surely we started getting a steady stream of donations coming in through our email (PPEKingston@gmail.com),” says Anna Curry, organizer of PPE Kingston. “We began organizing pick up of supplies, using proper social distancing measures, by our volunteers as well as coordinating drop off by community members at a centralized location. It has been wonderful to see our community come together during this pandemic and donate resources to our frontline workers.”

The group is working with community partners from the Ontario Medical Association to distribute the supplies.

The group recently received a major boost when they accepted a donation of 1,000 N95 masks from a pair of Queen’s alumni – entrepreneur and Dragons’ Den star Michele Romanow and Anatoliy Melnichuk, Head of Sales at Groupon.

Curry says she reached out to Romanow because of her Queen’s connections and she responded with Melnichuk’s contact information. The first shipment of masks arrived on Thursday and were delivered to KHSC on Friday.

You can follow the group’s activities on their Twitter account.

The Gazette previously reported on another group of Queen’s medical students, medical residents, faculty and staff, who are using 3D printers to create PPE items as well as collecting donations.

Stuart Street parking garage parking rate reduction

Queen’s and KHSC reducing maximum parking rate this month.

Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC) and Queen’s University, co-owners of the Stuart Street underground parking garage, have jointly agreed to reduce the daily hourly maximum parking rate from $20 to $5 during April.

Queen’s is also extending the provision of free parking on two of its largest lots to heathcare staff who work at KHSC. Free parking will remain available at the Tindall Parking Lot, located at Albert and Union streets, and the former site of St. Mary’s of the Lake Hospital, on Union Street, without permits, through April 13, 2020.

Queen’s appreciates all that Kingston’s healthcare partners are doing to respond to the pandemic and keep our community safe.

Freeing up resources for the COVID-19 battle

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Developed by a Queen's-based startup, the world’s first socially intelligent staff scheduling cloud tool is being made accessible for free to enable new users.

A Queen’s University-based startup is contributing to the effort to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus and support the healthcare system facing increasing demands during the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.

Mesh Scheduling Inc. recently announced it is waiving the monthly subscription fees to Mesh AI, the world’s first socially intelligent staff scheduling cloud tool, during the coronavirus pandemic.

In response to calls for help in battling the spread of the coronavirus, including from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Mesh AI is being made accessible for free to enable new users to improve scheduling and communication. Initially developed as a scheduling and communication platform with a focus on the healthcare sector, Mesh AI can be applied to practically any workplace.

With support from Queen’s Partnerships and Innovation, Mesh Scheduling Inc. is led by Shahram Yousefi, a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering who’s research interests include applied algorithms and machine learning with applications to healthcare and 5G telecom and data storage. 

Dr. Yousefi, also the startup’s president and CEO, points out that COVID-19 is affecting the availability of healthcare workers in two main ways.

Firstly, as frontline staff contract the disease or get quarantined for safety reasons, they are no longer available to work. Secondly, staff need to work in entirely different modes with new teams, new responsibilities, and in most cases with prolonged shifts to support their units and help save patients' lives. Fatigue, stress, and anxiety lead to loss of productivity and burnout.

How is this done?

Mesh AI allows all staff to add their personal requests such as vacations and shift preferences directly into their mobile apps no matter when and where. It also allows them to easily withdraw from or swap shifts already planned in case of illness or changes in circumstances. Schedule administrators are able to create schedules for week-long or year-long (and everything in between) planning with a press of a button. The highly sophisticated Mesh auto-scheduling engine takes all the organization’s requirements to create shift assignments with near mathematical optimality. This same ‘intelligence’ also suggests best second in place when a shift needs to be reassigned to a new employee.

This is where Mesh AI can make a positive difference.

“MeshAI.io helps with better communication among staff, sharing their needs and limitations, and responding to last-minute staffing changes very efficiently,” Dr. Yousefi says.  “It saves a great deal of time and resources for administrators and decision-makers in assigning shifts and also dealing with change. The data, intelligence, and cloud software features we have built maximize productivity and minimize disruptions, costly errors, and cost. We love the fact that this is done while we also empower employees to have some level of control and agency when it comes to their demanding jobs and work-life conflicts.”

Mesh AI is already being used by a number of healthcare facilities in Canada, U.S., and as far away as Australia, with positive results in adaptability, communication and risk/loss management as teams respond to increasing demands.

“One very interesting risk management component we’ve seen with Mesh AI, with healthcare in particular, is that hospitals and clinics are using Mesh AI to keep a group or subgroup of staff together because they’re being exposed to COVID-19 patients and when they do further shift allocation they keep that group together so they minimize the number of people that are being exposed to COVID-19 and as such they are reducing the risk of losing more and more people to sickness and current team requirements,” Dr. Yousefi says.

Mesh AI is currently available through Public Works and Government Services Canada’s BuyandSell.gc.ca website.

Learn more about Mesh AI and MESH Scheduling Inc. at MeshAI.io.

Those interested in acquiring a free subscription to Mesh AI can apply online using this form.

Supporting international student wellbeing

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The Queen’s University International Centre (QUIC) responds to COVID-19 with new online resources.

Photo of a person with a laptop and a notebook
International students can access services through QUIC no matter where they are.

During these unprecedented times, the Queen’s University International Centre (QUIC) – a division within Student Affairs – is working hard to continue fostering the success and wellbeing of international students at Queen’s.

“Student wellbeing and community building continue to be a priority for us,” says Sultan Almajil, Director of QUIC. “We are committed to building and promoting a sense of belonging online and to support our international students in any way we can.”

Online resources for international students

Recently, QUIC announced that they would be launching online resources and services for international students following the closure of their social spaces on campus. All of QUIC’s regular services are now available online in addition to some exciting new virtual offerings.

Students can continue making individual appointments with International Student Advisors to discuss immigration status, health insurance, and any other concerns they may have. These sessions will now be held online and can be booked by emailing isa@queensu.ca.

QUIC will also be hosting daily Zoom Room advising sessions, which allow students to virtually drop-in between 10-11 am to speak with an advisor. In addition, QUIC will also be hosting a variety of scheduled Zoom Room sessions that feature a specific topic or guest from other areas on campus or in the community. To see a full schedule of Zoom Room sessions, visit the QUIC events page.

All Zoom Rooms can be accessed using the link: https://zoom.us/j/925151345.

Building international community online

In addition to these resources, QUIC is also planning to introduce a number of new offerings including: online trivia, a “Walks with QUIC” series in which members stream their favourite walking trails in Kingston, and an “Uplifting Stories” session that give international students the chance to discuss their travel experiences from back home.

"I am thankful that QUIC is able to continue providing support, especially in a time of major transition in my life due to the outbreak of COVID-19,” says Janki Patel (MEng’20). “The QUIC staff have been very helpful and uplifting – keeping in touch every day to make sure that everyone is doing well. It's reassuring to see that all the services provided by QUIC are still available online and remain as effective as they were in-person.”

To learn more about their online services and stay up-to-date about upcoming offerings, check out the QUIC website or visit them on Facebook.

Free parking for hospital staff extended until April 13

Queen’s is extending the provision of free parking on two of its largest lots to heathcare staff who work at the nearby Kingston Health Sciences Centre. Free parking will remain available at the Tindall Parking Lot, located at Albert and Union streets, and the former site of St. Mary’s of the Lake Hospital, on Union Street, without permits, through April 13, 2020. 

Queen’s initially opened the parking lots to hospital staff on March 19 in an effort to support our healthcare partners, while many Queen’s staff work remotely. With the recent extension of the provincial emergency to April 13, parking capacity will remain available for hospital workers, and the university is happy to extend the offer. Queen’s appreciates all that Kingston’s healthcare partners are doing to respond to the pandemic and keep our community safe.

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